Wednesday, July 05, 2006  

Conscience and the Constitution

The US has seldom engaged in as blatently illegal a war as the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is illegal on so many levels: the invasion over non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the disregard for the safeguards of the Geneva Conventions, the preying on the Iraqi civilian population by members of the military (Green is not the exception that they would have you believe), the death squads set up throught the Ministry of the Interior, the rape and pilaging of Iraq's cultural treasure, the illegal (as determined by the US Supreme Court) militray show trials of detainees in Gitmo- the list is long.

Small wonder, then, that First Lt. Ehren Watada has taken a stand, declaring the "war" illegal and refusing to be deployed to Iraq.
Watada called the war and U.S. occupation of Iraq "illegal" and said participation would make him a party to war crimes.

In a statement, the Army said it had charged Watada, 28, with missing movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.

"Officers are held to a high moral and legal standard. Acts contrary to this standard may be tried by court-martial," said the Army statement.

If found guilty of all charges, Watada could face several years in confinement, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay, according to the Army. The missing movement charge carries the heaviest punishment of confinement of up to two years.

Watada's lawyer said he expected the missing movement charge, but was somewhat surprised by the decision to charge the officer with contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer, because it raises free speech issues.
(the rest)
Lest he be dismissed as some sort of a leftist wuss, pay heed to what Watada has said he is willing to do and his background.
First, Watada has said he would not appy for conscientious objector status because he is not against war itself.
Second, he said he would be willing to deploy to Afghanistan
Third, Watada comes from a family that willingly engaged in the US army in WWII, despite what was happening to Japanese-Americans throughout the contiguous states:
Bob Watada told how of the 10 brothers in his family, seven served in the military, with an elder brother working as a Japanese interpreter at the end of World War II in the Military Intelligence Service.

Ehren Watada "knew that I had a brother who had died in Korea, and I was concerned about him going to Iraq. I didn't want him to come home in a box," his father said. "He told me that he was very proud of his uncle. He was willing to die for his
(the rest)

Watada comes from an ideological line of those willing not to serve on the basis of illegality, among them the "no no boys" of WWII, and the Israeli officers and soldiers who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories of Palestine.

Like Watada, the Heart Mountain relocation camp resisters were willing to serve but only after the internment order, which had interned American citizens and loyal residents alike, was rescinded. Their story is told in the excellent documentary, Conscience and the Constitution, by Frank Abe.
'We Hereby Refuse...'

"I could not believe that the government could actually put us in camp, strip us of everything . . . and then order us into the military as if nothing had happened."
-- Frank Emi
info on film

In Israel, currently engaging in an illegal pounding of the Gaza, numerous officers and soldiers are also refusing to deploy to what they consider an illegal theater of operation. Six hundred and thirty reservists and others have refused to go.
Why don’t you serve in the Territories, and simply refuse to carry out illegal orders, should you be given any?
Youval Andorn replies:
Because the illegality is built into the situation. From the moment that we, as soldiers and commanders cross the ’67 borders, we have no choice but to treat every human being as an enemy. We have no choice but to discriminate between Jews and Arabs. We have no choice but to take part in the occupation, which is immoral by definition.
Many have served jail time for their beliefs.
For more about the "Courage to Refuse" movement, see Jesse Atlas' documentary At the Green Line

This will be a vey interesting case to follow.

Illegal or not "Joe Six-Pack" believes in one very important idea.

"If my dog gets into your trash and you kill it, I will stop by later and kill your entire family."

Might be a bit extreme of an example, but you get the point.
Hi there!

I think it's actually a bit more than that. I really think it's more along the lines of, I've been nice enough to let you exist here, but now, no more Mr. Nice Guy. It's the product of a 60 year long psychosis.
I thought the American Dream was to be independent. Not immoral grabs of power and wealth. These people have no idea how trapped money can make you. The only independent person is someone who has nothing to loose.

Looking around my country makes me want to move to Spain. I hear it's nice there this time of year.
I've been ready to go for awhile. Know anyone who needs another reporter in Iraq? Will write for student loan money + a bit more...
excellent post zazou. And what a character this man has. I am not exactly pro-war on principle, but he is definitely an honest man and one with backbone.
Hi Ingrid! I'm not exactly pro-war, either, especially not this kind. But Watada seems to have carefully thought out his position and certainly signals as shift in thinking in the commissioned officer corps.

I would also like to mention Pablo Paredes and Aidan Delgado who have also chosed not to serve, and I believe there are more.
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